Seven Essential Steps to Take Before A Magnet Journey

April 1, 2021
April 1, 2021

This blog post is an excerpt from an article by Gen Guanci, MEd, RN-BC, CCRN, Creative Healthcare Management, in the current issue of PX Alert, HealthStream's quarterly e-newsletter devoted to the wide range of challenges, situations, and issues that have an impact on the patient experience. 

There’s no doubt about it: the pursuit of Magnet® designation has a lot more in common with a marathon than it does with a sprint. Here are some tips for preparing for a Magnet journey.

1: Conduct a Readiness Assessment

Some people refer to this as a gap assessment. Regardless of what you call it, it’s vital that you fully understand the point from where you’re starting, where you need to go and where your current challenges are. The wise organization has this assessment completed by an external, non-biased individual. If you do this, be sure the individual has many years of experience in a wide variety of organizations that have been successful in attaining Magnet® designation. When looking for an external consultant, your first question should be, “What’s your track record for helping organizations attain Magnet®?

2: Create your Budget

Your overall Magnet® journey budget will have elements that are dependent upon your readiness results. In addition, it will be a multi-year budget. Items you want to be sure to include are as follows:

  • Initial education costs
  • Application fees, including general application, as well as appraiser fees associated with document review and site visit
  • External consultant journey support fees
  • Human resources costs, such as those for a program manager and administrative assistant
  • Monies needed to support the structures and processes needed for a successful Magnet® journey, such as councils, professional advancement program, and nursing research

Other budget considerations include printing or electronic document set-up costs, marketing costs (both before and after designation), celebration costs when you receive your designation, and costs to sustain your designation. If you don’t know these numbers, check with an experienced Magnet® consultant. It’s essential that your numbers are realistic.

3: Educate Yourself

When it comes to participating in a Magnet® journey, there is no such thing as too much education. I have seen four program revisions in the 15+ years I have been involved in Magnet®. This requires that I constantly refresh my knowledge. Education is available in a variety of methodologies. You can attend workshops and webinars, read the wide variety of articles available, or even join a learning community.

4: Educate Others

It’s obvious to most people that an organization embarking on a Magnet® journey must educate its nurses; however, your educational initiatives should go well beyond this group. Be sure to include all of the organization’s stakeholders, since the designation is for the entire organization. The best course of action is for the Magnet® program lead to see that all departments, leaders, executives, medical staff, and even the board of directors/trustees get educated about what it takes to achieve Magnet®. The wise program manager tailors the message to the audience and includes the “what’s in it for me” message.

5: Network

Visiting other Magnet® organizations and networking with people who have been directly involved in a successful Magnet® journey are two extremely helpful things to do. If your organization is a community hospital, your biggest benefit would come from speaking to those from a similar community hospital as opposed to a large academic medical center. When you do your visit, whether in person or virtually, be sure to set up an opportunity for staff from your organization to speak to peers at the networking organizations. When staff members hear the Magnet® journey stories from peers, it really helps to unify the team around a common goal.

6: Create a Project Plan

Time flies while on the Magnet® journey. Deadlines that might seem a long way off have a way of rapidly sneaking up on you. The creation of a project plan or specific timeline is crucial. Be sure to include the following major milestones or journey phases:

  • Getting ready/pre-submission phase
  • Document creation and submission phase
  • Document determination phase
  • Site visit phase
  • Status determination phase

Each of these phases has several components to them, so be very specific. The more detail you have, the higher the likelihood will be that you will not overlook something essential to your success.

7: Involve the Clinical/Direct Care Nurses

Successful Magnet® organizations involve staff at every opportunity. At site visit, staff will need to be able to speak to how they were involved in items, such as the development of the professional practice model, and how they are involved in decision-making. Whenever possible, always ask yourself, “Which clinical nurse should be involved in this?” 

The full article also describes:

  • 10 Lessons Learned from Multiple Magnet® Journeys
  • The value of having experienced Magnet® partners